MEMORIAL SERVICE

Jerry Wright

28th October 1960 - 6th June 2020

On Wednesday 24th November, 2021 at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of Jeremy Wright was held at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street.
Download Order of Service (pdf)

Introduction

The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the opening:

A very warm welcome to St Bride’s for this service, as we honour the memory and celebrate the life of Jeremy Wright – Jerry to many of us.

It is over a year since his untimely and heart-breaking death, and I know that we all continue to miss him immensely – because he was loved and respected by everyone who knew him – especially by those of you here today who were closest to his heart: his much-loved family and his life-long friends.

With characteristic understatement, Jerry himself said, ‘pancreatic cancer isn’t a great one to get’ – and it is indeed, both cruel and uncompromising.

And yet, the way in which he approached his final weeks reveals so much about the man that he was. As Clare has recounted, she never heard him moan or complain. He never gave up, took each day at a time, and to the very last he was always thinking and planning ahead. His courage and determination were there for all to see.

He also never lost his sense of humour: indeed, poor Clare acquired a new new nickname from him towards the end: ‘Dietollah’ – as a result of her efforts to minimize his intake of sugars. Jerry spent his final days at home with his family, who surrounded him with their love and affection – a love they shared that, at the end, needed no words. It was just there.

Jerry and Clare were married here at St Bride’s on 15th July 1989, and it remained a place that was immensely close to his heart. He and Clare were both confirmed here when aged in their 30s; and their children were both christened here.

And Jerry was a huge part of our life here in many ways. He served us faithfully as Churchwarden for more years than we had the right to ask of him. This was a role in which he excelled, to the benefit of us all, and for which I owe him a personal debt of thanks.

When I was shortlisted for the post of Rector here, all the candidates were invited to come for a preliminary visit and given an individual guided tour by one of the Churchwardens.

I had the immense good fortune to be assigned to Jerry – so he was actually the very first person I ever met here. After showing me round, we went and sat over there in one of the outer seats and had a long conversation – about St Bride’s and its people, about the job, and about the future of the church. And I can remember coming away from that conversation thinking: ‘Good heavens – if there are people of that calibre at St Bride’s, what is there not to like about this job?’

Both in that first encounter, and in all my subsequent dealings with him, Jerry was invariably astute, perceptive, persuasive and kind. And I can honestly say that during the whole of my seven-plus years here I have never once heard anybody utter a single word of criticism of him. Not once. People listened to Jerry because he earned their trust, and because they had learned to trust and respect his judgement. But Jerry was not merely a consummate professional and an amazing churchwarden. He was also an outstanding human being. And today, after all these long months of lockdown and Covid restrictions, we can finally celebrate that, and give thanks for all that he meant to us and for all that he was.

Address

Christopher Wright

First of all I would like to say a heartfelt thankyou to everyone who has taken the trouble to be here.

My father was one of life’s mixers – always actively involved in everything he did so there are people here who are family, school and university friends, colleagues from every stage of his career, and then there are the people he met through his sporting activities :the redoubtable men of the Min and his fellow warriors of the Bank of England Rugby club not to mention all his musical passions. Which I’m afraid I will have to do!!

To all of you: welcome.

My mother has asked Charlotte and me to deliver some words which she has written but she is a bit of a blubberer so she would never be able to deliver this in the time we have available!

They are gleaned from her memories, anecdotes from Dad’s family and friends and also shamelessly stolen from Richard Beswick’s eulogy which we heard at his funeral. I’m going to take the early part of Dad’s life and later Charlotte will bring us up to date.

My incorrigible husband is difficult to sum up in a few minutes. At times lively, quixotic, reflective. At introvert but at but at other times shamelessly extrovert.

For me he had both esoteric tastes – he loved opera, theatre, history, politics, philosophy but he also had “Man of the people tastes” – the super soaring Sun, American cop show Blue Bloods, Death in Paradise (why on earth did he enjoy that?) or the interminable the Archers. I’d never listened to the Archers till I met Jerry now it’s part of life just as he is.

The thing about Jerry was that he was politically right wing but with none of the meanness of spirit which sometimes accompanies those views. I genuinely think that he felt Capitalism was one of the best political systems available – but I’m also sure his views were not motivated by personal gain but more about pragmatism.

I often wonder why we got on so well. We were so different. He had a really strong intellect backed up by a phenomenal memory and unfailing logic where I am more intuitive and lateral thinking which he called woolly minded and weasel – ish! I remember asking him once whether it ever bothered him that I might be right about some of our debates but alas without the facts and figures to prove it. He remained benignly obdurate if I couldn’t match him with facts then I had no right to win.

Jerry was a bouncing, bonny baby (as you’ll see from one of the pictures on the service sheet). Even as a toddler he had that mischievous sparkle in his eye and a clear zest for life. His mother would dress him in reins so she stood some chance of restraining his exuberance and adventurous spirit.

I wish I could have tried this.

He put everything he had into everything he did as evidenced from his school reports which Elizabeth kindly handed over to me and in which I could find only one paltry entry which was less than glowing – it was an art report.

He also excelled at University. Academically he got a top first in his year ( as did his redoubtable mother in her time) whereas Gerald and I did not. But the list of what he achieved outside the lecture halls was dizzying :He was the generous and regular patron of countless public houses;Avid and ferocious debater (no wonder I lost so many of our debates) ;Equally importantly he was a founder member of the Min cricket team for whom he played with his customary energy, drive and commitment. He remains to this day the Min’s highest wicket taker and (and can I interject here as a very proud son ), I’m delighted to say the Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah is currently emulating Dad’s unique bowling run up. The Min have produced a video which showcases this if anyone wants proof!

In 1982 Jerry Joined Unilever as a graduate trainee narrowly avoiding banishment to the illustrious Nairn flooring in Kirkady (which as it happened was sold 3 years later – mercifully without Jerry – or we would never have met ) instead he joined Lever Brothers in Kingston.

There he became passionate about all things bleach, he became a world expert in under the rim ‘habits and attitudes’ and could often be seen at dinner parties rifling under the hostess’s kitchen sink performing sink product audits to check the correct brands had been purchased.

Jerry is one of life’s “stickers” and he remained with Unilever for over 25 years travelling the world and amazing all of his marketing teams with the peculiar eccentricity of the Englishman abroad.
His team in Hong Kong learned never to underestimate his competitive qualities as he triumphed in the autumn Hairy crab eating tournament against fierce and seasoned competition and his colleagues in Thailand learned never to let him have control of the Karaoke microphone. Once it was in his grasp it was difficult to wrest it back again.

He was that wonderful mix of British reserve with unashamed exhibitionism. One of his fellow trainees, Mhairi McEwan,remembers after a senior team lunch (where it has to be admitted drink was taken) he leapt up onto the table and lustily sang all 18 verses, word perfect, of “she was poor but she was honest” leading everyone in the chorus. He could also sing all 8 minutes and 36 seconds of “American Pie” as many of us can bear witness to.

His friend Hugh Burkitt recalls hearing an exuberant delivery of Delilah being belted out after a Solus club dinner and thinking we need this chap for our Gilbert and Sullivan society. Jerry’s wonderful voice was matched by his acting prowess having graduated with honours from the Dramatic School Of Ham!

It was his loud and persistent choral delivery which inspired a fellow Tower House parent,on a mini rugby tour, to purchase some singing lessons for Jerry with our close friend Bernadette Lord. The result was the following beautiful duet from Don Giovanni which he performed with Bernadette. He performed it with real commitment, joy and elan. In his absence the wonderful St. Brides Choir will join her now.

He is deeply missed.

Charlotte Wright

We are so grateful for the scores of emails and letters which we received about my father which confirmed my suspicions about what an exceptional man my dad was.

As my god-father said of the letters they contained “the starriest of five-star reviews. If Jerry were a West End musical, which I think he should be, he’d be selling out every night for a year.”

Common threads alluded to his essential kindness and decency – not fashionable terms today perhaps and – maybe qualities we insufficiently value today but to our family they are integral parts of his personality and what made him so loveable. Others referred to his exuberant sense of fun and sense of humour of which Chris has provided many examples. Many to his quiet and steadfast dedication. Jerry played Guiseppe in the Gondoliers and in a beautiful quartet sang the words “quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot” words which exemplified his approach to his work and to his personal life.

His job at ABC required him to arbitrate between the media owners, on one side, and the advertisers on the other and the agencies in the middle. Almost by definition if he excelled at this he would please no one but he trod that path pretty faultlessly and with consummate grace and tact.

His work with the St Bride’s Foundation and as a churchwarden was often extremely challenging requiring him to maintain a sense of fairness and proportion which rarely deserted him.

His last job with the Wates foundation allowed him to utilise not only his formidable intellect and business experience but also to and channel this into working with and supporting the charities which could really make a tangible difference to people’s lives.

I was so touched to read about how much difference he had made to the lives of so many people: whether it was giving timely sage advice; being an attentive ear. His friends loved him for his kindness, his loyalty and sheer affection.

Jerry was also extremely clubable. He wasn’t one of those people who complained from the sidelines: he threw himself actively into all the organisations he was connected with.

A good example of this was his involvement with the Bank of England rugby section. He may not have seemed to possess the most obvious of rugby physiques but what he lacked in brawn he made up for in spirit. He captained the Bank of England third team from 2005 to 2010 with real gusto and when he retired from the field of battle in his early fifties the farewell rugby ball said it all – “Captain, my captain”, Great skipper, Good work and – “the most honest captain I ever cheated!”

He gave his all on the pitch but also off it as Charlotte will probably remember when he was such an integral part of their celebrations that he missed her singing at the Albert Hall! We never forgot this but it was the only lapse. When he retired from playing he became a referee! I’m not sure he really enjoyed that but he certainly took it very seriously and as a naturally noisy man he did love his whistle!

And so I would like to draw these words to a close. Jerry was a force of Nature: loyal and loving family man and friend ; dedicated and assiduous employee; loud and lusty musician and fierce sportsman. He was a formidable quizzer; generous and welcoming host; the life and soul of the party. He did indeed “play up, play up and play the game” words which resonated with him in one of his favourite poems which combined his love of cricket with his mantra for life.

He’s an impossible act to follow but I see him daily in Christopher and Charlotte and for that I am truly grateful. Jerry, you deserve a rest, after all you crammed into a relatively short life. God’s speed you lovely, noisy, irrepressible man.

Reading

Matthew Wright read Song of Solomon 2: 10-13

10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Richard Beswick read an excerpt from Endymion by John Keats

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

James Hill read Vitai Lampada by Sir Henry Newbolt

There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night —
Ten to make and the match to win —
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote —
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

The sand of the desert is sodden red, —
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind —
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

Music

The choir & organist of St Bride’s performed the following anthems and songs:

Cantique de Jean Racine – Gabriel Fauré
Ave verum corpus – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
La ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (soprano: Bernadette Lord)
Never mind the why and wherefore from HMS Pinafore – William Schwenck Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan
Days – Ray Davies arr. Robert Jones
I was glad – Charles Hubert Parry

Hymn

I vow to thee, my country
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Guide me, O thou great Redeemer

Jerry Wright umpiring in cricket whites
congregation sitting for service

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